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Hawks update: they grow apace!

Man, am I behind on posting about the hawks! Like, seriously. So without further ado...


First, I wanted to point you to this person's Picasa album, which they left me the link to in a comment on my other blog:


Some truly amazing and high-quality shots taken during the hawks' development during the month of May. (Upon asking the photographers, they said that they'd used a digital SLR camera with a rented high-powered lens.)

So actually, when last we left the hawks, it was late May/early June, and they were still in the nest. On June 3rd, I got back up there to take a look, and found that they had graduated to branching (I believe it is called) -- hopping from the nest with the aid of wings into some of the nearby branches.


In fact, I got up there right as a really big thunderstorm was rolling in. I got some pics of the three fledglings, and then it REALLY started to bucket down rain. Which I actually got some photos of, which amazed me, as rain (in my experience) doesn't show up well on pictures.




There was a lot of unhappy flapping during the storm, which was quite gusty as well. And afterwards, some bedraggled hawks.


And then, we had some real excitement, which unfortunately did not result in any photos!

On June 7th, I received a comment on my other blog (which I put up just for the hawks, so I could share the link with people at work) from someone who works for Operations, telling me that one of the fledglings had fallen out of the nest and was walking around on the lawn underneath the tree! He said that they had called an animal rescue place, but been advised that the fledgling probably wasn't hurt and that the parents would continue to feed it. He hoped that I might get up there in time to get some good pics of it... but by the time I saw the comment notification and went up there, it was gone.

I was somewhat worried, though, because the nest tree is actually located about 20 feet from a very busy street. Presumably, the fledgling would be okay, so long as there were no off-leash dogs around. But what if it flew at a low angle towards the street? But, after I got up there and found it gone, I asked around, and a fellow who works for Operations who was there with a lawnmower said that the hawk had walked/hopped/flown around the corner and perched on a railing for a while, which HYO or the campus police cordoned off with yellow police tape to keep the curious at bay; and then that someone had come to take the fledgling away.

I tried to email around to find out if anyone knew who had done so. It sounded a bit like someone called a raptor rehabber or something, and they came to get the hawk. Which made me feel better, because of my worry about the traffic, for one thing; and for another because I could imagine very bad things happening, with the young hawk flying too close to where people were walking around the busy campus, and the parents taking umbrage with that and starting to attack people. Plus -- if someone who knows about raptors actually came to get the hawk, that suggests that it might have a good chance of surviving, if they could release it somewhere. I knew that last year's clutch was 3 and that one was lost somehow (and in fact, I think a 70%-80% mortality rate for raptor clutches is normal), so this may have given that fledgling a better chance at life. I wish I could have gotten confirmation of who took it, though, and where.

Not long after that, the remaining two fledglings had abandoned the nest and started flying around... and thus begins the task of trying to FIND them. For a while, I really wasn't able to spot them at all; I don't know where they were hanging out. On June 15th, I did see the parents -- together, for once, up on top of the Memorial Church weathervane:




Unfortunately, due to the angle, I really couldn't tell which one was bigger (and thus the female). Not that it would help. You can kind of see that their markings are pretty much identical, so even if I could tell momentarily which one was which, I don't see how I'd remember for later.

On June 23rd, I was finally able to locate the two fledglings, in and around the roofs of the Science Center. They had finally started with the distinctive, loud kreeeeeet-kreet-kreet calls that make them easy to triangulate on and find.


Here, one sat on the corner of part of the roof next to one of the parents, whom I obviously did not manage to get a good shot of as it took off:



The next day, I tried walking up to find them at lunch-time, even though it was very hot. I didn't find the fledglings. But at first, I did find some other interesting subjects: a nuthatch, and a downy woodpecker on a tree beside Pierce Hall:



(Also some chipping sparrows, apparently, although the shots I got of them were really lousy. But I was rather proud of noticing that while they were little brown ubiquitous-house-sparrow-like birds, their heads were different and they sounded different, and by golly, I was right, they were different. Yay, me.)

I did spot one of the adult hawks, across the street, on the roof of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I didn't even realize that I was photographing action shots of what I am guessing was a harassing mockingbird, until I looked at these pics later (nor did I realize I got the about-to-take-off shot so nicely in the second one; sometimes, you get really lucky like that):



And now, a wildlife interlude of a different sort. On June 30th, I was just walking from my office to get the bus, when I was passing Houghton Library (which is the middle of campus), and there, on the lawn beside the steps, literally 5 feet away, was:



A wild eastern cottontail rabbit. Unusually unconcerned with the pedestrian traffic passing so close, I have to say, considering how quickly these things scamper into the underbrush when I pass them on my bike on the river path. The river path is lousy with them, but I had no idea they came onto campus. (This was, in fact, just yards from the tree where I first saw a fledgling hawk almost exactly one year ago, which started this whole thing.)

All I know is, that bunny had better be very good at hiding, or its name is going to be "hawk food".

So that brings us up to yesterday, July 8th, when I finally got some more pics of the fledglings and the adults.

Hanging out on the spire of Memorial Church, crying:


This was one of those days where I wasn't lucky like that -- I kept JUST missing a good chance at a good shot by seconds. I failed to get a pic of this one taking off. Am pretty sure that it flew directly to the weathervane over at the First Church:



Eventually I decided that the light was not great and it was too hot to stand around waiting for it to do something interesting. While walking towards the T station, though, I happened to hear, and then spot, a second fledgling up on the roof of Holyoke Center (the tallest building in the Square, at 9 stories), where it cried and cried:


Again, I managed to snap a pic of it just seconds BEFORE it took off. I followed it around the corner and spotted it on another part of the same roof, and then managed to snap THIS picture just seconds after the circling adult hawk would have been REALLY nicely silhouetted against the blue sky and lit by the setting sun... in fact, I lightened this considerably in Photoshop so that you can see the adult at all (with the brown lump on the corner of the roof being the fledgling):


More to come in the weeks ahead!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2010 05:18 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting all this! These are great to look at. And thanks for the update on Fledgeling #3. Let us know if you learn more!

I would say either that rabbit's been fed by a lot of humans or it's not healthy, if it's that unconcerned about humans.
Jul. 10th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)
You got some really nice shots. Thanks for sharing!
Jul. 11th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
Oh my, they really did look bedraggled. Lovely photos, love the perched on the weathervane shots. And the last bunny shot is hilarious. Such an eye it is giving you. Also....bonus woodpecker with nuthatch! The mockingbird ones are as cool as you said, great stuff.

Lovely to see you yesterday, big hugs and still snorfling about what we were snorfling about.

Jul. 11th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
Dude, I'd flap unhappily too if it were pouring rain on me like that!
Apr. 13th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Hoping to have my say
Hi - I am really delighted to find this. Good job!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )